In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

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The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

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Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

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Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

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The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 2, 2007 / 19 Elul, 5767

Ex Convict

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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Can I publicize the criminal past of a new congregant?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: A new member of our congregation served time for being a con man. Now he is trying to interest congregation members in various business deals. Can I publicly alert the congregation to his past?

A: Any time we contemplate warning someone about a potential that someone may cause him a loss we are faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, the Torah warns us not to spread idle gossip: "Don't go about as a talebearer among your people." We need a compelling reason to badmouth our fellow man. Yet the Torah also admonishes us not to sit idly when we can prevent loss or harm to a neighbor: "Don't sit idly on the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16). Highlighting this tension, both admonitions are in a single verse. The usual rule in this case is that disclosure is permissible only when, and only to the extent, that it is essential to preventing harm, and when it doesn't cause undeserved harm to the subject.

In this situation, the dilemma is amplified. The case for making a disclosure is much stronger, because the potential victim is not a single individual but rather a number of people; another weighty consideration is that the potential for danger seems unusually great if the person is a convicted criminal.

But the case against disclosure is also stronger than usual. Making a public announcement about a person's past is much more severe than making a private warning to a threatened individual. This could be considered a public disgrace, which is considered one of the most severe offences in Jewish law. In the Biblical story of Judah and Tamar, when Judah accuses Tamar of unfaithfulness, Tamar does not state outright "You, Judah, are the father". Rather, she risks punishment by stating obliquely, "The man to whom these [signs] belong I am pregnant" (Genesis 38:25). Rashi's commentary states: "From this it is said, it is better for a man to be cast into a fiery furnace than to publicly mortify his fellow."

This man's past also constitutes a two-edged sword. It certainly does increase the chances that his efforts to drum up business are a threat to congregation members. But it also obligates us to consider how our community enables rehabilitation of wrongdoers. If every person who has committed a crime has to live it down wherever he lives, then criminals will have little incentive to reform. They are already branded as threats. We find in many places that our sages were lenient towards reformed wrongdoers "so as not to lock the door before repentance." The renowned early Medieval scholar, Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid writes that even if a thief is compelled to return stolen goods because of a ban or because he was seen by witnesses, "we shouldn't publicly denigrate him and publicize the matter . . . We shouldn't embarrass him so as not to lock the door before penitents." (1)

Given these considerations, I think that the most productive course of action is not to make a public announcement specifying the individual, but rather to discern and announce the particular kind of business deal he is offering. Most con-artists draw on a limited and well-known repertoire of scams. For example: "A number of congregants have been approached about investing in Biafran mining stocks. We urge those approached to exercise the greatest caution, since we have heard many stories of investors being ripped off in similar schemes."

This in no way publicizes or shames the individual. In fact, it does not even condemn his activities since it merely urges those approached to exercise caution. Yet it is just as effective in protecting victims; arguably it is even more effective, since it puts people on guard for other people who may be peddling similar wares.

I personally am amazed at the ease with which people are convinced to put their money is schemes which seem to me so transparently hollow. This is a good opportunity to remind readers of an ancient guide to identifying market scams: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

SOURCES: (1) Sefer Chasidim, chapter 594


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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


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